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Is November a good time to visit Scotland?

We are planning a trip to Scotland, and are thinking of going the last week in November. The kids are out of school for the Thanksgiving holiday and that is the best time for us. Is the weather manageable and are there festivals to see? I know that some of the castles will be closed so that is a bummer, but if there are Christmas markets set up then that would be great.

Any help would be appreciated.



Posted by
6612 posts

There are two standard answers whenever you ask a question like this...

  1. "Anytime you can get there is a good time to go to (anywhere - Scotland, Tahiti, wherever)."

  2. The weather can be doing anything, and there's no way to know for sure (that's true anywhere in the world) but...expect a lot of rain.

Personally, I would go a different time. The weather in November is likely to be very wet and perhaps cold much of the time. If you want to be out and about, and stay dry while doing it, you will want good rain gear. Sure, you could get lucky and catch a mild, relatively dry break for a short while, but odds are you will get at least a modest amount of a lot of rain (probably a lot) and it'll be cold. Depends on your tolerance for that, of course - if you (like me) are from someplace where it generally rains constantly for months, it'll probably feel familiar. But if 5 (or more) rainy days in a row make you feel glum....go somewhere else, and plan your Scotland visit for July (you will still need to be prepared for rain in July, but the chances that you'll get nothing but rain for days on end are lower then).

"There's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing" - you'll hear that a lot.

Posted by
26477 posts

In addition to the possibility of the very-undesirable-to-me combination of chilly and wet, in November you have very short days. My hatred of insufficient sunshine is notorious, so no one on the forum will be surprised when I write: I'd never do it, even if offered a free trip.

How about southern Spain? The summer vacation period is a really bad time to see places like Seville, Cordoba and Granada because of the likelihood of extreme heat. November would be reasonable. You can't totally avoid short days in November in Europe, but the situation will not be so extreme if you stick to the south. If you have just a week, sticking to Seville and Cordoba would probably be best.

Posted by
6612 posts

To help the OP get their head around what Scotland is like in November:
Edinburgh is as far north as Moscow (Russia) or SE Alaska.
Imagine yourself in one of those places in late November (then add bagpipes, whiskey, and plaid clothing).

Posted by
23115 posts

I don't know where you are from but it would help if you understood the geography. Scotland is roughly as far north as Hudson Bay in Canada. Granted the weather dynamics being near water and land is different but not a whole lot. In Nov the days will be short with weak sunlight and long nights. You are just two, three weeks from the shortest day. At that time of year you can get a lot of wind and rain along with snow off of the North Sea. Personally I would not do it. There are much nicer places to visit at that time of year.

Posted by
10876 posts

I imagine you will be enduring, not enjoying, a trip at that time of year. If you are from Fairbanks, it would be an improvement.

Posted by
2630 posts

as someone who lives in Scotland i would say November is not the best time to be travelling in the country. great if you want to base yourselves in the "Central Belt" and visit Edinbugh ,Glasgow, Stirling,Perth and Dundee.Plenty to do and see in these places to keep you going for months,
Dundee is becoming the "in" place these days with the new V&A museum that opened just recently,Verdant works and Discovery point with the ship Discovery that Captain Scott took to the south pole,read up on Oor Willie and the Broons I am sure the kids would love finding out about them.I have friends in Kansas city and send them a Broons calender every year.
There may be some smaller festivals on especially in Edinburgh and the Christmas market start in Edinburgh the last week of November.
Weather can be really variable but the days are very short and the further north you go the shorter they are maximum of 8 hours daylight and if the weather is overcast will seem like a lot less.

Posted by
2469 posts

A lot of nonsense about Scottish weather. It can be dreich and yes it's as north as Moscow etc. but the Gulf Stream means the British Isles are a whole lot more temperate.

Posted by
1436 posts

Most of the Christmas Markets don't start until December in Scotland. Friends of mine went to Scotland in the winter to visit family and sent pictures of bright blue if chilly weather. It is dark early because of the latitude. The cities and bigger towns should have enough evening activities and daytime places to visit to keep everyone happy. The weather is one of the reasons Scotch Whisky was invented.

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi, Dawn,

Don't let the naysayers discourage you. I've been in Scotland in November, and sure, it gets dark early, and the weather could be iffy, but there is a multitude of things to do and places to visit. You didn't say how much time you have. If the kids are in secondary school or uni, Thanksgiving break is about five days. That doesn't give you a whole lot of time, so if that's the case, your activities would be pretty much limited to the Strathclyde region.

If you have more than five days, then you can venture farther afield. Unclegus has given some really good recommendations about Dundee. ("Oor Wullie - He's a'body's Wullie") In addition to what he has already mentioned, the city also has two world class universities and a thriving nightlife. Plus, I should add, Groucho's, the best independent record store in Scotland. (Sorry, Europa, your prices are too high!)

Anyway, Dawn, if you're seriously considering Scotland for a short break, come back to this forum, and we'll load you up with suggestions.


Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
9 posts

A little late responding, but I'd say go for it in November, with a couple of caveats. I did this trip 2017 because Thanksgiving week was a good week to be away from work. The weather will be chilly (as low as high 20s to low 30s F). There will be less daylight that time of year. That being said, there so much to do in Edinburgh, and you may get the random gorgeous/sunny day. Edinburgh Christmas will be in full swing by then.

As mentioned, you will have better luck in the Central Belt. I was attempting to fly to Islay, and although I did eventually make it, not before a lengthy weather delay at the Glasgow Airport.

In short, go for it!

Posted by
6991 posts

A lot might depend on the ages of the kids and how they might tolerate cold, damp, rainy weather and short days - sunrise around 8:00 am and sunset around 5:30 pm or earlier.

Posted by
4637 posts

Is November a good time to visit Scotland? I have a short answer: No.